Overview Of College Readiness Project

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  • 1.Overview of College Readiness Project David T. Conley, Ph.D. Kathryn Rooney Young, M.A. Darya Veach, M.S. Center for Educational Policy Research University of Oregon

2. Why Do We Need to Develop College Readiness Definitions?

  • Increasingly, a college education is the new minimum for entry into jobs or careers, and more jobs expect higher levels of education at the entry level
  • More students are going on to college, increasing the burden on high schools to prepare them properly
  • Colleges are under pressure to increase student success (retention, persistence, graduation)

3. Why Do We Need to Develop College Readiness Definitions?

  • US educational system is the most decentralized in the world
  • 298 local school districts making decisions about what to teach
  • Public and private postsecondary systems governed separately from K-12
    • Important differences among how public postsecondary institutions governance, mission

4. Why Do We Need to Develop College Readiness Definitions?

  • For the past 100+ years, course titles have been the only way quality was defined between systems
    • Course titling alone tells less as different levels of college prep arise within high schools
  • Course grades, the other quality control measure, have continued to go up over the past 30 years, limiting their usefulness in determining college readiness
    • Todays B is yesterdays C

5. Why Do We Need to Develop College Readiness Definitions?

  • Current state standards were not developed with college readiness in mind
    • They represent knowledge that all students should strive to master at a common level
  • While these state standards may overlap college and work readiness in many areas, they were not specifically designed to align directly, particularly with college success
  • Higher education does not have explicit criteria for expected knowledge

6. Why Do We Need to Develop College Readiness Definitions?

  • State assessments are given at 10th grade to reflect curriculum through mid-10th grade at most
  • College placement tests are either generic or home-grown
    • Accuplacer, Compass, or institution-specific
  • Neither type of test provides much guidance to students on what should they be mastering to be college-ready
    • WASL isnt designed to do so, and students take placement tests after high school

7. What Is Occurring In Other States?

  • No significant federal role, so each state (or institution) must approach this task individually
    • E.g., Oregon Proficiency-based Admission Standards System (PASS), UC System math standards, CSU Early Assessment Program (EAP)
  • Several states are making efforts, but Washington appears to be among the leaders
    • WA Transition Math Project

8. The Washington Context

  • Unique moment in history of education in Washington
    • First standards, high school graduation exam requirement
    • The states economy has a strong and growing knowledge component that has caused business leaders to seek major improvements in education
    • Higher education is a willing partner
    • TMP experience leads the way


  • A collaborative K-16 statewide initiative designed to help foster successful student transitions from high school to college and the workforce

What is the Transition Mathematics Project (TMP)? 10. What has TMP Accomplished to Date?

  • Defined clear and consistent expectations for college readiness in math
  • Developed practical communications materials for students, parents and counselors
  • Promoted and supported local/regional high school/college partnerships focused on improving math preparation


  • Implement College Readiness Math Expectations across the state by supporting and extending additional local high school/college partnerships
  • Address math placement testing issues (alignment with standards, improved outreach,)
  • Demonstrate the impact of this work on student course-taking and performance in high school and college math courses

Next Steps for TMP 12. Placement Testing in Washington Postsecondary Education

  • Community & technical colleges use one of three tests:
    • The College Boards Accuplacer
    • ACTs ASSET
  • Washingtons public baccalaureate institutions use intermediate and advanced math placement tests administered through the University of Washington

13. Uses of Placement Tests

    • Colleges use these placement tests in various ways, including as
      • General advising tools
      • Mandatory placement decisions based on cut scores
      • Guides for admission to specific programs

14. HECB Role

  • College Readiness part of states 2004 Master plan for Higher Education
  • With cross-sector team, develop Phase II and Phase III plans for college readiness
  • Educate the public about the imperative of linking and aligning college readiness with K-12 learning requirements
  • Push for college readiness to be priorities of Governor, State Legislature, educational institutions and students

15. What The Positive Effects Can Be

  • Guidance to high school and entry-level college course faculty on how to align content
  • Rising expectations for all students in terms of content challenge level and habits of mind
  • Better connection between state standards and exams and college readiness and placement
  • Potential for students to progress when ready from high school to college-level work
  • More students going to college and succeeding

16. Background on CEPR

  • Conducted the first national-level project to identify the knowledge and skills necessary for college success
    • 20 research universities, over 400 faculty, 800 course documents
  • Currently working under a contract from College Board to identify best practice college courses to inform the redesign of AP in seven subject areas
    • Goal is to focus AP on essential content and to develop key habits ofmind in AP classes

17. Background on CEPR

  • Working under a contract from OSPI to develop alternative methods of assessment for students who dont meet standard on the WASL (HB 2195)
  • Through a federal grant, working with high school/postsecondary teams to design high school courses that prepare students for college success and make concomitant changes in college classes

18. Background on CEPR

  • Have conducted and are conducting Alignment and Challenge Audits of high schools to determine how well their curriculum covers college readiness standards
    • E.g., Bellevue high schools analyzed
  • Have conducted other online ratings and analysis activities to determine alignment between high school and college

19. Examining the Differences in the Subject Areas

  • Each subject area presents its own unique challenges when developing standards
  • Take 3 minutes to discuss with a neighbor the two subject areas under study here
  • List ways in which they are similar and different

20. Some Characteristics of English

  • English is an amalgamation of skills related to language mastery
  • The major areas are reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • The foundational skill set is mastery of the mechanics and content of a language
  • Only writing and speaking can be directly assessed, however
  • There is no clear hierarchy or sequence for much of what is taught at the high school level

21. Some Characteristics of English

  • High school English teachers tend to emphasize literary analysis whereas college (and work) requires a broader set of literacy skills
  • There is little formal instruction in reading in high school or college
  • It is often assumed that research skills are being taught in high school English, although there is no natural reason that they must or should necessarily be taught there

22. Some Characteristics of English

  • Writing is perhaps the most important foundational skill for college success
  • Writing is difficult and time-consuming to teach, and high school structure does not support writing instruction well
  • Few high schools have composition requirements or explicit expectations for developing student writing skill
    • Few have Writing Across the Curriculum programs
  • Many students progress only marginally in writing during high school

23. Some Characteristics of English

  • Key skills such as interpreting charts and graphs are not systematically taught anywhere in the curriculum
    • Are they language skills that should be taught in English, elsewhere, or across the curriculum?
  • English can be a place to develop critical thinking
  • The progression of the high school English curriculum across four years is unclear
  • Most universities have composition course requirements
  • Few have English courses to address many of the areas listed previously

24. Some Characteristics of Science

  • Science is not a discipline, but a collection of disciplines, each with its own content and methods
    • Biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, environmental science, etc.
  • Science is united primarily through a set of underlying principles and techniques for comprehending the natural world
  • Each subject area in science has a clear content, but less emphasis has been placed in the teaching of science on developing the underlying habits of mind associated with being a scientist

25. Some Characteristics of Science

  • Much science has a strong mathematics component to it
    • Prerequisite math skills are often not mastered well enough to allow students to understand science
  • The applications of science have many dimensions that should be understood
    • Science in society
    • Science and technology

26. Some Characteristics of Science

  • Science contains many ethical issues that are important for students to understand
  • Science increasingly operates in practice in an interdisciplinary fashion among branches of science, and includes connections between the physical and social sciences

27. Some Characteristics of Science

  • Science requires a series of foundational skills including the ability to
    • collect data accurately
    • measure phenomena precisely
    • interpret findings
    • conjecture and hypothesize
    • recognize serendipity
    • These skills aremore difficult to learn than content knowledge and are often taught only indirectly
  • Sciences often have a lab component

28. The Differences Between High School and College

  • Take a few minutes and talk to your neighbor about the differences between high school and college

29. The Differences Between High School and College

  • High schools prepare students as generalists
    • Some exceptions exist, but increasingly all students take a common academic core as the bulk of their studies
  • Colleges prepare students to be specialists
    • Community colleges prepare students to transfer or for specialized occupations
  • The general education requirements are an extension of the high school generalist notions and the logical place to connect high school and college

30. The Differences Between High School and College

  • Students must be in high school; college is still largely voluntary
  • Students select a college, but rarely select a high school
  • High school deals with all students; colleges deal with those theoretically capable of benefiting from further education

31. The Differences Between High School and College

  • High school teachers teach the subject and the child
  • College faculty may be immersed in research in their area of specialization
  • To some degree, college courses (and majors) must attract students (general ed requirements and major requirements somewhat of an exception)
  • Core academic high school courses, for the most part, do not have to attract students
  • College faculty teach fewer hours per week but may may enroll more students in their classes
  • High school teachers still have to worry about angry parents (although colleges are seeing more of these)

32. Finding Common Ground

  • Identify as many things that you can that high school and college faculty have in common
  • Identify three important and real differences

33. Standards Analysis Document

  • Each of you received a document with an analysis of national or state standards in your subject area related to college readiness
  • This document is designed to serve as a point of departure for your discussions and to offer a convenient framework against which you can reference your own development process
  • The document is a resource only and not intended to dictate the outcomes or results you reach

34. Six Science Documents Analyzed

  • ACT College Readiness Standards for Science
  • Benchmarks for Science Literacy produced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Knowledge and Skills for University Success produced by Standards for Success
  • National Science Education Standards produced by
  • Proficiency-based Admission Standards System (PASS) produced by Oregon University System
  • Washington Competency-based Admission Standards Pilot Project produced by the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board

35. Five English Documents Analyzed

  • ACT College Readiness Standards for English
  • American Diploma Project Standards for English
  • Knowledge and Skills for University Success produced by Standards for Success
  • Proficiency-based Admission Standards System (PASS) produced by Oregon University System
  • Washington Competency-based Admission Standards Pilot Project produced by the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board

36. Brief Descriptions of the Documents:ACT College Readiness Standards

  • The College Readiness Standards are sets of statements intended to help test takers understand the meaning of the scores earned in EXPLORE, PLAN, and the ACT (ACT's three curriculum-based assessment programs)
  • The College Readiness Standards are also linked to college instruction

37. Brief Descriptions of the Documents: Knowledge and Skills for University Success

  • Study of faculty at research universities nationally to identify what is key to success in entry-level courses
  • Contains content knowledge and habits of mind
  • Completed in 2003 and sent to all high schools in the nation
  • Licensed by the College Board for use in developing its standards

38. Brief Descriptions of the Documents: Proficiency-based Admission Standard System

  • Developed initially in 1994 by Oregon University System to connect high school reforms with college readiness
  • Adopted as policy by State Board of Higher Education
  • Being implemented voluntarily at the moment statewide
  • Identifies key knowledge and skills and how to assess student proficiency in these areas

39. Brief Descriptions of the Documents: Competency-based Admission Standards Pilot

  • Conducted by HECB in late 1990s
  • Developed set of competencies students should be expected to master in order to be admitted to college
  • Piloted statewide at selected Washington high schools

40. Brief Descriptions of the Science-Specific Documents:Science for All Americans

  • SFAA describes what constitutes adult scientific literacy
  • Benchmarks suggests how students might progress toward that goal
  • This document is a tool to be used in designing a curriculum, not a particular curriculum design itself
  • It is a component of the Project 2061 reform initiative in science, mathematics, and technology education

41. Brief Descriptions of the Science-Specific Documents:National Science Education Standards

  • Present a vision of a scientifically literate populace
  • Outline what students need to know, understand, and be able to do to be scientifically literate at different grade levels
  • Hundreds of people cooperated in developing theStandards, including teachers, school administrators, parents, curriculum developers, college faculty and administrators, scientists, engineers, and government officials
  • Developed under the sponsorship of the National Committee on Science Education Standards and Assessment, National Research Council

42. Brief Descriptions of the English-Specific Documents: American Diploma Project

  • Sponsored by Achieve, Inc., an organization devoted to helping states raise their standards for a high school diploma
  • Convened groups of high school, postsecondary faculty and representatives from the business community to identify standards that describe the specific content and skills that graduates must have mastered by the time they leave high school if they expect to succeed in postsecondary education or in high-performance, high-growth jobs

43. Comparative Analysis of College Readiness Definitions

  • Analysis conducted by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
    • Nationally-recognized experts in standards development and analysis
    • Develop, review, and revise education content standards, including Washington EALRs
    • Work with state agencies and school districts including many Washington clients

44. Structure of Analysis

  • Organizational Levels:
  • Discipline (e.g. English)
    • Subject Area (e.g. Writing)
      • Topic (e.g. Grammar & Usage)
        • Definition (e.g. Consistently useproper sentence structure)

45. Subject Areas

  • English
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking, listening, viewing
  • Foundational English skills
  • Habits of Mind
  • Other
  • Science
  • Life Science
  • Physical Science
  • Earth Science
  • Foundational Science Skills
  • Foundational Math Skills
  • Habits of Mind
  • Other

46. Examples of Topics

  • Reading
  • Critical Reading
  • Informational genres
  • Literary genres
  • Literary style and techniques
  • Mass media format
  • Reading comprehension strategies
  • Story/Literary elements
  • Physical Science
  • Atoms and molecules
  • Chemical reactions
  • Electricity and magnetism
  • Gravity
  • Properties of substances
  • Vibration and waves

47. Structure of definitions Definition B* Definition F Definition E Topic2 DefinitionD DefinitionC DefinitionB* DefinitionA Topic1 Subject Area 1 Doc 5 Doc 4 Doc 3 Doc 2 Doc 1 48. Distribution of Definitions 299 rows 113 rows Science 236 rows 110 rows English Non-highlighted rows with only one definition Highlighted rows with multiple definitions 49. Your Task Today and Tomorrow

  • Review the highlighted rows with multiple standards
  • Select one in each of these rows or rephrase the definitions
  • Then review all rows together
  • Delete rows that are not important for college readiness
  • Add definitions that you feel were not included in the analysis

50. What You Will Be Expected To Do Between Now and March 3

  • Log in to a website we have created that will have the draft definition statements developed in this meeting
  • Review each draft definition statement carefully, then do the following:
    • Identify its importance on a four-point scale
    • Suggest edits or rewording for any definition you feel requires further elaboration
    • Add definitions at the end of each section, if you feel something is missing

51. Online Rating Tool: Example

  • On the next slide is an example of what you will see when you log on between January 27 and March 16

52. Example of Online Rating Tool 53. Consolidating Online Responses Received

  • After all input from the online tool has been received, a review team will integrate the results into a new set of draft definitions that will serve as the focal point for the March 16-17 meeting


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